Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#90 - 12 Mar 2006

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at http://www.businessrespect.net and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we review the interim report of the UN special representative on business and human rights, and look at the dilemma facing ExxonMobil in Chad.

Welcome

One of the biggest challenges for global businesses is how they operate in countries where some fairly basic rules are either absent or routinely not enforced. This is the message contained within the recent interim report of the US Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, John Ruggie. You'll find a short commentary on the interim report in this issue.

Probably the most challenging dilemma you'll find on this theme is the current facedown taking place in Chad between the oil companies, the World Bank, and the Chad government. An innovative and hopeful agreement to ensure that, within one of the most corrupt countries on the planet, oil revenues would genuinely benefit the people of Ghana has just been unilaterally torn up by the Chad government. What comes next? See the expanded commentary also below.

In the mean time, you have been responding strongly to the new vote placed on the website around the issues covered last time on the activities of the internet companies in China. So far, there is one of the closest votes ever for one of these polls. The current state of play:

Internet companies faced with demands of censorship by China

Should do whatever they are required to do by the Chinese government - 14 (9%)
Should obey laws but do whatever they can to uphold their home values - 67 (47%)
Should refuse to compromise even if this means not doing business in China - 63 (44%)

144 people have so far voted. Thanks to those that have taken part - still plenty of time to make your views known!

News

UK: Women still earn 17 percent less than men at work

A report released by the Women and Work Commission has found that women in full-time work in the UK are still earning 17 percent less than their male counterparts.

GM and Toyota end collaboration on fuel cells

General Motors and Toyota have ended their partnership on the development of hydrogen-powered cars. They have signed a technology-sharing pact that does not include fuel cells but focuses instead on safety.

Papua New Guinea: Illegal logging and corruption destroying largest forest

A multi-million dollar logging industry dominated by Malaysian interests is destroying the largest remaining area of primary tropical forest, according to the US Forest Trends report 'Logging, Legality and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea'.

Australia: 27 companies face exploitation action

A Federal Court action has been launched against 27 companies accused of exploitation as anti-sweatshop protests marked Melbourne Fashion Week.

International citizenship network launched

A new international business network has been launched by Accountability and Boston College. The Global Leadership Network (GLN) is a membership organisation with the objective to improve the impact of corporate citizenship initiatives.

Japan: Livedoor scandal calls Global Compact membership into doubt

The internet firm Livedoor which has been hit by a corruption scandal is to have its membership of the Global Compact called into question by other Japanese members.

Parmalat founder asks investors for forgiveness

Calisto Tanzi, the disgraced founder of Parmalat, said that he wanted investors to forgive him for the events that led up to the company's collapse three years ago.

Merck cuts AIDS drug price 20 percent in developing world

Merck has said that it is to cut the price it charges for its anti-AIDS drug Stocrin by 20 percent in poor countries. The company says that the move now places its pricing of the drug very close to the cost of generic alternatives.

Coca-Cola calls on UN to investigate human rights in Colombia

Coca-Cola has asked the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Colombia that have dogged the company over recent years.

US Contractor found guilty of $3m Iraq fraud

A US federal court has convicted Custer Battles, a contractor that carried out work in Iraq immediately following the end of the war, guilty of defrauding the US government. The case is the first of a number due to be heard under the Federal False Claims Act.

Ghana: Call to companies to redefine corporate social responsibility

The Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Joyce Aryee, has called on companies operating in Ghana to see their corporate social responsibility as a core component of their business.

Microsoft response to EU 'entirely inadequate'

The response to date by Microsoft in meeting the terms of the European Commission's anti-competition ruling are 'entirely inadequate' according to the Commission, and may result in the company being fined up to 2m euros a day.

Article

Exxon ponders the challenge of Chad

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 8 Mar 2006

ExxonMobil is a company that is probably used to the feeling that whatever it does, it can never win in the eyes of its many critics. It is used to difficult and controversial choices. It faces on of its most difficult ones now in Chad.

Mapping out the way ahead for business and human rights

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 12 Mar 2006

John Ruggie, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, has produced his interim report.

Previous edition - No 89 | Following edition - No 91

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Special Feature

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Social responsibility and finance - on the precipice

In a recent article, the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston highlighted the fact that in 2012 the chances are that the economy - punch drunk as it is from the various flavours of debt crisis it has been pummelled with over the course of the year - will be hit by the collapse of a major bank and / or government.